Today I'll be sharing an interview that I did for BetaBooks. You may remember that I blogged about this new Beta reading platform two weeks ago. BetaBooks is still referral only so if you're interested in joining, either as a writer or as a reader, remember to mention my name. Today we're pleased to Interview Shona Kinsella. Shona is a newly-signed author from the UK, her book Ashael Rising was the second book to go through Beta on BetaBooks. She and Andrew have been friends since meeting through Scribophile last year.
Thanks for the interview, Shona!
Tell us about Ashael Rising
My book is an epic fantasy called Ashael Rising. It tells the story of a tribal medicine woman who must find a way to defend her people from invaders from another world who extend their own lives by feeding on the life force of others. It’s available for pre-order from my publisher, Unbound at https://unbound.com/books/ashael-rising and it will be available from all eBook platforms before the end of the year.
1. How do you decide when a book is ready for people to read?
I think this is one of those things that’s probably different for different authors. For me, it was when I had made all of the changes and improvements that I could see myself as well as incorporating feedback from my writing group. I think there’s a point when you can’t see the big picture yourself anymore and that’s when you need other people to read it.
2. Who are your early readers and how did you find them?
My early readers were family and friends as well as members of my writing group. I tried to ask people who were readers in my genre and so would be familiar with genre conventions etc, but I also wanted people who would be honest with me. Obviously, no-one wants to be told not to give up their day job but I didn’t want to have my feelings protected at the expense of my work.
3. What is it you look for in early reader feedback, and have you ever been surprised or learned something new about your book from you early readers?
Mostly I’m looking for big picture feedback. Does it work? Are the characters interesting? Have I lost track of a character or subplot somewhere? What do you love? What do you hate? Are there any continuity errors. Is it enjoyable?
4. As an author what do you value most about both your early readers and their input?
I love my early readers. My first ever reader was my husband and without his support, my book would never have been written. I really appreciate the variety of insights that I got from my early readers, the different perspectives that they all offered. Some readers were able to offer more technical advice while others commented on the emotional points, the bits where they cried and the bits where they wanted to cheer. All of that information is really useful.
5. Is there anything you wish your early readers would do better, or skills you have had to instill in them over time?
My early readers were excellent. I can’t think of anything they could have done better.
6. Do you get critiques or feedback other ways, for instance from a writers group as you are writing? If so do you think there is a difference between that process and what a better reader does?
I’m a member of a writing group where I got a critique on the first draft of each chapter. I think there’s a big difference between that and a beta reader and both of them are equally valuable. My writing group were able to get into really technical detail about sentence structure and prose. They were really helpful when kicking ideas about and thinking about themes of the book and they definitely helped to make it a better novel.
My beta readers were much more able to give me big-picture feedback about narrative arc and pacing and things that are easy to lose sight of when you’re only reading a chapter a week.
7. What is the most frustrating thing about the beta reading process for you? (Yes this is both a point of interest and a way for us to dig for features)
I’m impatient. When any sort of work is out of my hands, I find it really difficult to wait for feedback before I can move on to the next stage. To be fair, I felt the same way about waiting for my editorial report, this isn’t specific to beta reading.
Bonus Question: You used BetaBooks. If you care to mention, how did it help your process? Was there anything you especially appreciated or found useful about it?
I found BetaBooks to be a great way of allowing readers to comment on every chapter and keep everything together. I liked being able to see how much of the book had been read so far and the interface was really easy to use. I’ll definitely be using it again for the sequel!